Castle Street



Richard Ingham senior began as a worsted stuff maker before starting in the cotton spinning business at CASTLE MILL and then at CINDERHILL MILL. He died about 1810, leaving his three sons, Richard, John and William to continue. They traded under the name of Richard Ingham & Sons for many years after the death of their father before eventually becoming Richard Ingham & Brothers. About the time of the death of Richard senior, a third mill was added to the collection. This was Millsteads, and all three mills were located in the Castle Street area of Todmorden.

Castle Naze

The family home of the Inghams was Castle Lodge. John was the only one to marry. He and his family lived nearby at Castle Naze, which is where his sons, Richard and John Arthur, were born. These two sons continued the family concern in later years.

Castle Lodge



In 1830, the three brothers bought a plot of land in the Castle Street area. Trading as Richard Ingham & Sons, they built Woodhouse Mill as a steam powered cotton-spinning mill in 1832. It faced onto the canal, with a tier of doors designed to take in goods directly from the boats. These doors were situated in the middle of the front wall. The hoist above these doors was attached to a small triangular pediment, which is inscribed 1832.

Woodhouse Mill 2005

The engine house and boiler house, together with the warehouse, were detached from the main building, as is the chimney. The mill was 5 storeys high, ten bays long by four bays deep. There was no weaving shed at Woodhouse, so initially all the weaving was put out to local handloom weavers. When its sister mill, Cinderhill, had a weaving shed added, the two mills ran in conjunction and home weaving was discontinued. In the 1850's they added an extension to the side of the mill, 4 storeys high with a flat roof that carried a cast iron reservoir.
John Ingham had responsibility for Woodhouse Mill, remaining at the helm until about 1860 when his sons John Arthur and William took over. John Arthur looked after the boilers and machinery whilst William took care of the paper work. By 1863, the mill had a 45hp steam engine and 2 boilers, each of 40hp. One of these boilers was new, but the other was 15 years old and recently patched up.

On 3rd November 1863 there was a dreadful accident at the mill when the old patched-up boiler exploded. One girl died and 6 other people were seriously injured. The dead girl was Sarah Greenwood. The accident was well covered in the local and national press as can be seen from the following extracts, kindly supplied by John Alan Longbottom.

View of the mill from above Castle Naze 2005


Halifax Guardian

7th November 1863

Terrible Boiler Explosion at Todmorden.

One of these frightful contingencies to which all manufacturing districts are liable, occurred at Todmorden, on Tuesday morning, in the shape of a boiler explosion. Although in this case the loss of life has fortunately not been large, yet the circumstances under which the explosion occurred, involving as they did the narrow escape of scores of lives from certain destruction, coupled with the frightful havoc created by the explosion, concur in rendering the accident one of the most memorable that has occurred for some time. Woodhouse Mill, Langfield, is, or rather was, occupied by Messrs. Ingham Brothers, as a cotton mill, and stood in that part of Todmorden called Castle Street. It stood flanking the hillside, was a substantially built edifice, five storeys in height, 30 yards long, fifteen yards wide, and had been built about 25 years ago. Detached from the main building and standing close against the hillside, to which it had a lean to roof, were the boiler house and engine room, a partition wall dividing the two. This edifice fronted the mill, a paved yard, or passage, only five yards in width dividing them. The mill was full of valuable machinery and the engine was one of 45 horsepower. In the shed were two boilers, one of comparatively recent make, the other an old boiler of 40 horse power, which had been in use 15 years, and had recently been patched up by the insertion of new plates. It was this latter that caused the catastrophe.

Owing to the cotton famine, the mill had been standing up to Wednesday week, but the boiler fires had been kept in. On Tuesday, however, the mill was to commence running short time, and the hands were to assemble by eight o'clock. The engine tenter, William Sharples, was at his post the first of any, getting up steam and putting all in readiness for resuming work. Between ten minutes to eight and five minutes to that hour, Miles Parker, Sarah Walton, Charles Wilson, Sarah Heyworth and Sarah Greenwood, arrived at the spot and prepared to commence work.


The four first named went into the mill, but the unfortunate girl Greenwood having got her clothes wet, went across the yard to the boiler house to hang her damp garments over the boilers to dry. Meanwhile other groups of the workpeople were approaching the mill. Suddenly and without the least previous warning, a horrid roar strikes upon them and the boiler shed is seen to burst open like a gigantic shell, evolving immense clouds of steam and vapour, and streams of fire and ashes, whilst the huge and dark mass of an enormous boiler is seen to fly like a rocket against the mill side, striking it fair in the centre. With a fearful crash the walls give way, the whole mill side from the bottommost to the topmost storey, along with the flooring and roof, shuttering down into one mass of ruin. The whole occurrence occupied but a moment's time, and took place at three minutes to eight o'clock. Had a single minute more intervened the loss of life would have been deplorable, inasmuch as the various groups of workpeople approaching the scene of a disaster would have come within reach of its influence.


As it was the effect was fearful. The massive boiler had been ripped into two parts, one being driven over to the bank and over a cottage house to a distance of nigh upon 25 yards, whilst a flange and a part of the manhole, each weighing a hundredweight, were forced on the hill-side fully 100 yards distant. The boiler house was, of course reduced to a complete wreck, the debris lying about in all directions. The mill, except a portion of each end, presented a complete wreck, roof, floors, and side-walls being heaped together in one heterogeneous mass of ruin. As speedily as possible search and enquiries were made for the injured. The four parties in the mill, although much bruised and shaken, escaped with their lives, being at the end of the mill when the explosion occurred. The escape of Sharples the engine-tenter, was most wonderful. He had only just left the boilers and was entering the engine-room when the fearful crack and crash, together with the quivering of the floor, told him what had happened. With great presence of mind he ran to the window, dashed it open, and jumped out. Fortunately the window was at one end of the shed, and so he escaped the falling mill. Had he made his escape into the yard, he would have inevitably been buried beneath the debris.

But it fared ill with the poor girl Greenwood. She was engaged in hanging up her clothes at the time the explosion occurred, and was thus in the very midst of the fearful scene. A search was made for her, and she was found many yards from the spot. Contrary to expectation the poor girl was alive, but was in such a terrible shattered condition that it was evident she could not long survive. As quickly and as gently as possible she was conveyed to the Rose and Crown Inn, which is adjacent to the mill. Messrs. Cockroft, Foster, Sutcliffe, and Hardman, surgeons, were quickly on the spot and attended to the injuries of all. Nothing, of course, could be done for the girl, who gradually sank and expired about half-past ten o'clock in the morning. The rest of the injured parties were doing well. As the news of the disaster become known, crowds of people flocked to the spot, and viewed the ruin made. A body of police was early on the ground and maintained order. As to the causes of the catastrophe the evidence at the inquest fully proved this. The custom of working an old boiler with a new one, at the same pressure, appears to be conducive to an explosion, judging from the many that have occurred lately. The loss to Messrs Ingham will be a severe one, and will amount to several thousand pounds.


Halifax Guardian 7th November 1863

The Inquest

Verdict of Manslaughter Against the Mill Owner.


On Wednesday afternoon, the inquest on the body of the deceased girl was held at the Rose and Crown Inn, before J. B. Ingram, Esq., deputy coroner, and a respectable jury. The following is a resume of the evidence given.


Hannah Binns - I am a widow, and live in Centre Street, Todmorden. I work for Messrs. Richard Ingham and Sons, but not at Woodhouse Mill, the one where the explosion occurred. Sarah Greenwood, the deceased was my sister. She was 28 years of age, and worked at Woodhouse Mill as a dyer frame tenter. I saw her about a quarter past eight o'clock yesterday morning, as she was going to her work. I went to Cinder Hill mill where I work. I had not been in more than five minutes before I heard the explosion. I went to the spot, and she was got out in a minute or two after. She was insensible, and never spoke afterwards.


Enoch Horsfall - cordwainer, Millwood, said - I heard of the explosion and went to the spot as quickly as possible. Assisted to search for the deceased. We found her doubled up in a crouching position, ten yards from the mill, and about forty from the boiler. It seemed as if she had been blown there. She was about four feet from the yard wall. She did not speak, and seemed insensible. I looked to see if there was any water about, but did not see any beyond what might result from a rainy day.

Jonas Helliwell - stone mason, Castle Street. I know Woodhouse Mill. There were tow 40 horse-power boilers, I set both of them. The one that has not burst I set about three years ago. It was quite a new boiler. The other, the one that burst, I set in the year 1848. It was then a new one. Mr. John Ingham, the old gentleman who is since dead, gave me my orders three years ago. There are now the two sons in the concern. I believe John Arthur Ingham looks after the boilers and machinery, and his brother, William looks after the books etc. William Sharples is the engine tenter and his uncle, James Sharples is throstle overlooker. Sometimes James used to give William a help. William Sharples is over 20 years of age, and has been firer up since his grandfather died. Before that he used to help a bit about the boiler. I never heard any doubts expressed about the safety of the boilers. In the year 1848, when I put in the boiler that has now burst, it replaced one I had set in the year 1846.

James Sharples - said, I am employed as a throstle overlooker at Woodhouse Mill. Mr. William Ingham was generally in the warehouse, and Mr. John Arthur Ingham looked after the machinery. William Sharples was engine tenter. He was 21 years old, and had 15s-6d a week, for six working days. He had been engine-tenter since last April. He had no assistance and managed all himself. I went sometimes to look over, and if I saw anything wrong I told him. William managed very well, and I never saw anything wrong until the explosion. Yesterday morning I saw nothing wrong. I was in the mill when the explosion took place. Latterly we did not begin work until eight o'clock. I first came to the mill at seven o'clock, and there seemed plenty of water in the boiler. I looked, for I threw coals on the fire. William Sharples was about, getting the steam up. I never noticed a leak about the mid feather. The boiler rested on bricks, right up the centre, and I was not aware of any leaks in the part resting on the bricks. A plate was put on underneath, where it rested on the bricks and other plates over the fire, some months ago. They were put on because the boiler leaked. Messrs. Buckley, boiler makers of Gauxholme did the work. I went to breakfast, and got back to the mill at eight o'clock. After the explosion William told me he had not started the engine when it happened. The shafting had not run round. I saw the water moving in the glass gauge, and it was within a very little of the top of the tube, half an inch or so. I cannot say what water was on the top of the flues from what was indicated in the gauge glass. There were two floats on the boiler. One had been out of gear for some time, the stone being off - it was the one indicating the depth of the water. At seven o'clock the steam was at 15 to 20 inches pressure. I do not know at what pressure it generally worked. When the engine was standing, the boilers were fed from a cistern near; there was a pipe and a tap on it. When the engine was working, the water was supplied by a pump from the canal. The fires had gone out since Wednesday, and I do not know when they were lit. No water had been put in the boilers whilst the fires were out. There was one lever and weight safety valve to each boiler. I do not know if they were blowing off at the time of the explosion. On Monday, the boilers were heated, and steam turned on to warm the mill. After the explosion there was not much water about.

James Robert Croft, Inspector of Police, Hebden Bridge said - When I got to the mill I saw William Sharples, the engine-tenter. He stated to me that at five minutes to eight o'clock he noticed the steam gauge to be near 35 pounds. He usually worked it, so he said at 40. He was in the engine-room when the explosion occurred, and seeing the steps had been blown away, got out by the window. Sarah Greenwood called to him and said Bill, the door is blown open. I got some men to help me, and found the deceased laid ten yards from the boiler house. The boiler had been in use 15 years, and was ill eaten about the rivets and very much cankered. George Sharples, grandfather to the engine-tenter, complained to the late Richard Ingham about the boiler being in a bad state last year. Mr. John Arthur Ingham said to me that the engine tenter deserved horse-whipping.


Mr. William Bailey, principal engineer at Messrs. J. Crossley and Sons, Dean Clough Mills Halifax, said - I have carefully examined the exploded boiler and the locality. The hinder part in connection with the two flues, or fire-boxes, I found to be forcibly removed from its place, as was part of the shell and front end, caused in my opinion, from a rent in the plates in the seventh ring from the front end. The plate where the rent took place had been materially reduced in strength by external corrosion, which must have been going on for some considerable time - too often the result of boilers being placed on centre walls or mid feathers. To my mind that method of setting boilers cannot be too much condemned. If any leakage takes place, the slighter the more danger, the brickwork holds the moisture, and so prevents detection. The thickness of the plate the jury now see is about that of a new penny piece. I have frequently seen similar cases, produced by the same cause. The weak place, where the rent commenced, was in the seventh ring from the front end. A great deal of internal corrosion had gone on, which, however, had nothing to do with the explosion. There appears to have been an ample amount of water in the boiler at the time of the explosion, and as far as I can judge, the gauge was in working order. The fact of little or no water being noticed about the exploded boiler, would not indicate positively the fact of there being a deficient supply in at the time of the explosion, because when the iron burst open, the greater portion of the boiling water would fly off in the shape of steam or vapour, and the rest would be projected in all directions. I found two safety valves, one three inches and one four inches - the former a spring balance, and the latter a lever and weight. I found the steam would blow off at 40 pounds pressure, as indicated by the state of the lever balance. I have ever reason to believe, from the statement made by William Sharples, that there were other weights, besides the one alluded to, on the lever at the time of the explosion. After much search, we found the weight two fields length off the boiler. Sharples told me there were other weights on besides the one found on the lever. The steam gauge was of bad construction - an old compressed air gauge, liable to get wrong, and give false indications. The boiler was a large one, eight feet diameter, and would be likely to rupture at a very low pressure. If the boiler had been properly examined before the explosion, the weakness would have been found out.


Such a boiler should not have been used, and an ordinary engine tenter would have detected a rupture. It was very easy to detect. The corrosion had extended over two plates. At Messrs. Crossleys, we remove our boilers every 10 years. We are very sensitive. Boilers ought not to be worked for 15 years.


Mr. John Arthur Ingham said - with regard to the decayed plates, Mr. Buckley, our boiler maker, went through the boiler in April last, and we were not aware of any defect or leakage. We regret the occurrence exceedingly.


The part where the corrosion must have taken place, must have corroded very suddenly and since April. We had no knowledge of it.

William Sharples , after being duly cautioned added - I say Buckley mended the boiler twice. I never saw anything wrong with the boiler except at that time.

Mr. John Buckley of Gauxholme, said - I have been in the habit of doing work for Messrs Ingham. I know the boiler in question, having repaired it once in June last. We took four plates out of the fire-boxes, and put new ones in, and put fresh doors in the boiler. Nothing more. My foreman examined the boiler, and reported what was wanted. Mr. J. A. Ingham wished me to give the boiler a thorough examination. I went under the flue to see if any places were bulged. I found it flattened in many places, but nowhere sufficient to indicate danger. I went under the bottom, and found one place where the boiler had leaked, but it did not appear to have done so for any considerable time. I told Mr. Ingham I considered it safe at the pressure at which they were working. Many of our best engineers are at fault in regard to leaking in the middle feather being easy of detection. In many cases it is difficult. The mode, Mr. Bailey recommends is the one I adopt, but that, though the best, often fails in detecting leaks over the mid-feather. The whole weight of the boiler resting on the mid-feather, a thin plate will not give the same sound as if resting on a surface. I have seen the boiler-plate and I think it has been corroded in the way Mr. Bailey states. In some instances, but not always, an engine-tenter of ordinary skill, and with fair care, would detect them. The corrosion of plates on mid-feathers and at the bottom of boilers is generally confined within the breadth of the mid-feather, and when so are exceedingly difficult to detect. I put no plate under the mid-feather when I repaired the boiler. The corrosion on the next plate is not so bad as where the rent is, and extends a little wider than the mid-feather. I am not aware that we ever repaired the boiler more than once, and certainly not where it rests on the mid-feather.


The jury returned the following verdict - We find that Sarah Greenwood, the woman whose body we viewed, died from injuries received from the bursting of a boiler at Woodhouse Mill, on the 3rd instant. We also further find that John Arthur Ingham employed an incompetent person as fireman or engineer, and consequently is guilty of manslaughter.


The coroner then made out his warrant for the committal of Mr. Ingham to York Assizes. He was admitted to bail, himself in £200 and two sureties of £100 each.


John Arthur Ingham

John Arthur Ingham made application to quash the verdict of the Coroner's Court on the grounds that the cause of Sarah Greenwood's death was not recorded, nor the time the offence was committed. His application was refused by Mr. Justice Crompton.

There followed a lengthy and expensive trial in London, and although John Arthur was finally acquitted of the manslaughter charge, he was never fully forgiven. So, it seems that the concept of Corporate Manslaughter is not a modern one.


John Arthur Ingham died in January 1900 aged 75. He had suffered from Brights Disease for a number of years. He was a Magistrate and a member of the School Board. He is buried in the family vault at St. Paul's Cross Stone. He bequeathed his mills at Woodhouse, Cinderhills and Millsteads to his sons, John Arthur junior and Henry Mitchell Ingham. His estate was £163,500. I wonder how much money the family of Sarah Greenwood had?

The Shaw, Langfield about 1900,

residence of John Arthur Ingham


The manager of the mill in 1880 was Elias Barker. He entered into a formal partnership with James Greenwood, an engineer from Halifax, and trading as Barker & Greenwood they took out a lease on both Cinderhill and Woodhouse Mills. The partnership was dissolved in 1884, from which time Elias Barker continued alone. He was last mentioned as a tenant in 1897 when his place was taken by Wilson Greenwood. It seems the mill was later purchased by Wilson Greenwood, possibly after the death of John Arthur Ingham in 1900.

The photo (by kind permission of Roger Birch) shows the mill, Bank Cottages, and the mill's detached chimney about 1906.

On 11th August 1897, the following piece appeared in the local press:



"The work people employed at Woodhouse Mill by Mr. Wilson Greenwood, to the number of about 80, presented their respected Master with a handsome marble time-piece bearing the following inscription: "Presented to Mr. Wilson Greenwood on the occasion of his marriage by the workpeople at Woodhouse Mill, August 12th 1897." The members of the cotton spinning class held under the auspices of the local Technical Instruction Committee also presented Mr. Greenwood, who had been their teacher, with two ornamental equestrian bronzes, to match the time-piece, and a silver crumb tray and brush."

Mr. Greenwood was still running the mill in 1930. It then closed and was left derelict for many years. The mill was made a Grade II Listed Building and became a possible candidate for restoration and conversion to a textile and industrial museum.

© Chris Allen, licensed as such for further reuse.  



after the fire

However, in 1994 an accidental fire gutted the interior and left it without a roof and end wall. This put paid to any conversion, but more recently a businessman purchased it and has restored it faithfully to its former glory on the outside of the building, whilst converting the interior into residential apartments.